On the spectrum of festival personality types, I’m somewhere near the civilised Port Eliot/Wilderness end. Cavorting through gardens, Prosecco in hand, fresh flower crown on head, is more my speed than pretending to enjoy trudging through thigh-high mud. (Sorry, Glasto faithful: not my thing!)

 

Since my last festival experience, I’ve had twins and moved back to London intent on making it to at least one festival in 2016. But somewhere between booking tickets for Port Eliot and obsessively checking the weather app for chances of rain in St Germans, it hit me: How was I supposed to manage a festival with two tiny humans?

 

The second that travel plans involve small offspring, packing for yourself becomes an afterthought. That’s fine for short trips when everything is replaceable and you’re sleeping indoors.

 

Festivals—with camping, uncertain weather conditions, long train journeys and 2.5-year-olds’ commitment to tantrums—pose a whole new magnitude of challenge. Especially when, like me, you might have ambitions of making it through said festival with some semblance of style.

 

‘I was terrified. I was absolutely petrified,’ says Kat Farmer, the Does my bum look 40 in this? blogger, of taking her three children (ages 11, 9 and 7) to their first festival (Port Eliot) last weekend. ‘The issue with going to a festival, especially one this fashionable, is that you want to fit in, you want to look like yourself, and you want to be chilled out and relaxed, all while you’re chasing three kids.’

 

Emily Cronin at Port Eliot

 

image: black bridesmaid dresses

 

Festival-with-family veterans have time-tested strategies. ‘I do my packing first,’ says Rockins designer Jess Morris, who, along with partner Tim Rockins, has taken her two sons to festivals since they were babies. ‘I still pack and wear the same style clothes for festivals that I always have—it’s just more packing now.’ She swears by hats, vests and tees, silk and denim shirts, jeans, bits of sparkle and lots of skinny scarves.

 

Morris’s mantra is ‘customise and personalise’: ‘That way you’ll never bump in to anyone else who bought the same fringe jacket as you on the high street.’ That’s still true if you forget a piece of luggage—Morris once left the kids’ bag at home when the family rushed out the door for a festival wedding. ‘I had to be very creative with my own pieces for them, knotting vests and rolling up sleeves. Turns out kids look amazing in oversized ‘70s velvet blazers.’

 

I left the velvet blazers at home, but still managed to make our first family festival fun for the kids and for myself. And learned some lessons for next year. Here’s how to play it:

 

Start strong

 

Plan a look for your first day of the festival. That gives you a chance to arrive, unpack (or unzip your backpack and watch the contents spew across the tent floor) and change into clothes you trust don’t make you look like a lunatic. (Tents: they still don’t come with mirrors.) I threw a vintage khaki jacket over a white broderie anglaise dress and immediately felt like a floaty festival person rather than a harassed snack sherpa.

 

Dress like yourself

 

If the concept of ‘festival style’ makes you shudder, then leave it to the Coachella crowd. The women who look happiest and best at festivals are those who feel at home in their outfits. That means finding the middle ground between OTT pieces and pure utility (AKA ‘middle-aged hiking holiday’ dressing). ‘I almost didn’t bring it, but my Bella Freud jumper got more comments than anything else I wore all weekend,’ Farmer says. ‘It made me feel a bit dressed up and fashionable, even though I wore it with cropped harem trousers—basically pyjamas.’

 

BYO flair

 

Pre-kids, it’s perfectly valid to spend a dazed morning wandering the merch tents, picking up flower crowns and any other adornments that strike your fancy. This will never happen with children in the picture. Instead, bring your own only-at-a-festival accessories—I went for this laser-cut acrylic floral headpiece. Small children also adore garlands, glow sticks, face paint and anything involving glitter, so pack enough for everyone.

 

Layer up

 

The only way to tackle ice-cream-meltingly hot afternoons that turn into frosty evenings is to be prepared. ‘We layer a lot,’ Morris says. ‘We start the day light and just keep adding.’ Short- and long-sleeved t-shirts, jumpers, light jackets and more substantial cover-ups all have a place in your festival pack. Commit to a colour family—navy is easiest—and watch everything hang together. Notable exceptions: Breton stripes, leopard print and the colour red go with everything. Mix at will.

 

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